Interview: Davey Havok of Blaqk Audio
Tue, 14 Aug 2007 12:27:45
Blaqk Audio Videos
After toiling in relative obscurity through the '90s, AFI have found platinum success in recent years, crossing over from cult band to mainstream juggernaut on 2003's Sing the Sorrow and 2006's Decemberunderground. After a grueling schedule in support of last year's record, the band is putting "Miss Murder" and "Love Like Winter" on the shelf for a little while.
But frontman Davey Havok and guitarist Jade Puget are heading right back into another promotional blitz and nationwide tour—this time for their side project Blaqk Audio's first album, CexCells, and its batch of sexed-up electronic songs. Needless to say, no one will be confusing Blaqk Audio with AFI.
The CexCells publicity campaign recently swept Havok through Milwaukee, a city where, presumably much to the chagrin of a straight-edge vegetarian, beer and cheese reign supreme. Amiable nonetheless, Havok talked to ARTISTdirect about the influences behind CexCells, his unique partnership with Puget, and the possibility that "sexed-up electronic songs" may send AFI fans running for cover.
For most bands, putting out that first album is nerve-wracking because there's no audience. Blaqk Audio obviously has somewhat of a built-in audience—but is it more nerve-wracking because there's more pressure to deliver?
It's not really nerve-wracking—it's interesting, it's exciting. We love the record. I'm so very, very happy with CexCells and I can't wait for it to get out. So it's a matter of just waiting and seeing what happens with it. We're not really sure who's going to be into it, who's going to come to the shows, and who's going to buy the record. Being that it's our first project, we put no expectations or limitations on it. It's just kind of fun.
How are you approaching it from a marketing standpoint? Are you stickering the album with "Two of the masterminds behind AFI" in big block letters?
You know what, unfortunately, yeah, there's that sticker on there—I just saw it today. [laughs] I don't think it has the "mastermind" moniker attached, but it definitely points out who's in the band. The record label doesn't want to hide the fact that one of the bigger bands they have is in this little electronic niche project.
Did you have to win them over?
No, the way it went was actually pretty cool. We have a really good relationship with the label and our A&R guy is fantastic. He knew that we'd been working on this project forever, and when we told him "Hey, we actually have a record, do you want to put it out?" he said, "Yeah"—unheard. I think most people that heard about Blaqk Audio but hadn't heard anything expected it to be far more subversive and crunchy; I think they were envisioning something like Skinny Puppy or 242. That's not at all what it is, so when the label heard the record and heard it was extremely poppy, they went "Oh!" [laughs] "We might be able to do something with this!" They were really excited about it, which was really cool for us.
Blaqk Audio will presumably be polarizing to some AFI fans, since even the later albums in the AFI catalog have been polarizing to some AFI fans. Do you keep your finger on the fan pulse?
Oh, no, no. I don't care. [laughs] No, no, I really don't care at all. I've always come from the outlook of "I'm going to make what I love and what I believe in and what I enjoy playing—and if you like it, that is fantastic. And if you don't, that is fantastic." The reality is that the way AFI has been able to do what we've done so long has been keeping our creativity with that outlook. We started not caring and we continued not caring. I mean, don't get me wrong, we appreciate everything that we have. If I had it my way, millions of people would continue or grow to love us—but not at the cost of compromising.
When you were growing up and getting into bands, were you the sort who liked to spread the band around and try to make them popular, or did you like keeping them as your secret?
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